‘Hidden Figures’ Shines in the Shadows

‘Hidden Figures’ is a triumphant celebration of open-minded ethics, allowing for a visceral experience above it's not-so-hidden flaws.

Theodore Melfi brings us ‘Hidden Figures,’ an uncharted tale with a heart as large as its morals.

hidden figures
Photo courtesy of Steven Zang.

When looking to the sky, it’s possible to miss what is directly in front of you. Acclaimed-director Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) hopes to point out such missing pieces with Hidden Figures, a period piece about the unexposed truths of NASA’s origins. However, it’s more than just a historical moment in time. Rather, it’s a historical triumph for race and gender alike. What Melfi does so well in this impassioned drama is shine a spotlight worthy of your emotional applause.

The focus is on three innovative mathematicians: Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). Johnson is put to the task of “fact-checking” NASA’s imperative Space Task Group, overseen by Al Harrsion (Kevin Costner) and head-engineer Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons). Nevertheless, each with the disadvantage of a prejudicial era, the trio must stand together as African-American women in the midst of America’s infamous space race.

Hidden Figures, for starters, has its fair share of banality. There’s not much artistic depth, as far as interesting camera angles or strikingly-witty dialogue. However, for some odd reason, Melfi stages it where such is (ironically) hidden from the naïve eye. The audience is pleasantly distracted from such clichés with a heart as boundless as space.

The intuitive drama carries a sense of empowerment that thrusts the story to the top of a pedestal, bursting with an almost-euphoric catharsis. It stirs the pot with a gripping message about equity for all, and not the chosen few. Furthermore, such themes break the barriers of not just skin color and classified gender, but simply anyone with the tenacity to dream.

“I think Hidden Figures portrays only courage in the face of racial issues, but also a turning point for women’s equality,” said Shannon Zang, both a film-buff and advocate for women’s rights. “Its message connects with the problems that our country is facing, even to this day. It’s a must-see.”

Hidden Figures, therefore, is an emblem of progress, especially in a time where we need it the most. Melfi reminds us that their world and our world are not light-years apart, and that there is a lesson to be learned from replacing social flaw with moral law. In other words, let the light shine in. You might just find yourself looking straight ahead.

Hidden Figures is now playing in movie theaters worldwide. Some more local venues include AMC Clifton Commons, AMC Loews Wayne 14 and even Bow Tie Bellevue Cinemas in the heart of Upper Montclair. For a list of even more theaters and show-times, visit fandango.com today.

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